Cleo got her first bling – a name tag with her full name on it. She also lost her first tooth – bottom lowers. I have nothing poignant to write. Interesting to me that words flow more easily when I struggle, when I am in the midst of angst and anxiety. Smooth sailing is harder for me (to write about, to talk about, to accept), than I think it should be. Why is that?
My grandmother would have had me believe that I don’t want to jinx myself. Bragging about how well things are going is bound to bring down the evil eye upon you (spit spit spit).
My father would have had me believe that there is always a struggle somewhere and that spitting rainbows (or an equally colorful expression) won’t make those struggles go away. My mother would have me believe that (a) I don’t deserve to have things go well and (b) that things going well for me causes other people, whose lives are not going well, to be angry, jealous, resentful of me. Wow, that is fucked up.
The truth is, life has changed for me since Cleo arrived on the scene. At least in my inner world. I’m working (you’ll excuse the expression) like a dog to train her and keep her exercised enough so that she is happy, well-adjusted, well-mannered. A dog who is pleasant to be around and not destructive or obnoxious. And while I have been working very hard, Cleo is quite an amazing spirit, making my job enormously enjoyable. She is a loving, cheerful, tranquil, gentle, serene, insouciant old soul. In chaplain’s terms, she is the epitome of a non-anxious presence.
She has been a balm for my soul. From little things like lowering my heart-rate and stress levels when I pet her, to larger things like getting me out of the house and moving on freezing cold snowy winter days when my tendency and predilection would have kept me in the house leaning toward depression, doing nothing good for my anxiety but feeding it. Instead, those adoring, wistful, enthusiastic eyes get me up and out and active. With the help of my new Fitbit* I know that I am walking between 3 and 5 miles a day with Cleo. She’s getting me out of my comfort zone so that I’m finding and taking her to new places, trails surrounded by the beauty and quiet of nature that I find so soothing. We come back energized and refreshed and happy. I love the cold feeling of my rosy cheeks and nose, of settling back into the warm hug of home. Cleo is ready to sit calmly in Nina’s lap and either play baby or have Nina read to her.
In some ways Cleo creates a bubble of tranquility around me. She doesn’t care what I look like, what I’m wearing or what gender I am or am not. I am beyond myself, more than my self. It’s a lot to put on a dog, I know. But her simple love is easy and I’m so focused on communing with her that I’m not laying trips on myself about how or who to be. I’m not trying. I’m simply being. She knows that I adore her and she adores me right back. What more could anyone want?
*Fitbit is an activity tracker – a fancy pedometer really – that tracks how many steps I take, how many miles walked, etc. It feeds right into my competitive proclivity. I’m eager to outdo myself, walking more, climbing stairs at work instead of taking elevators and checking my progress. And then there was the day I wound a ball of yarn and earned myself an extra several thousand steps and over a mile. Hey, nothing’s perfect.